By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Saturday’s slugburger eating contest is the food-event highlight of this weekend’s Slugburger Festival, drawing nationally competitive professional eaters for their first taste of the local delicacy.
The Major League Eaters Slugburger Eating World Championship at 2 p.m. Saturday in downtown Corinth will award $3,000 in cash prizes as the popular event celebrates its 25th year.
“This has been a learning experience but a lot of fun,” said Montana Hill, executive director of Main Street Corinth, who is directing her first Slugburger Festival.
Following the pattern of the MLE-sanctioned Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship held July 4th in New York, this year’s slugburger eating contest will pit world-class professional eaters Matt “Mega Toad” Stonie and Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan against one another.
Stonie weighs 120 pounds and is 5-feet-6-inches tall. The San Jose, Calif., resident and college student is the sixth-ranked competitive eater in the nation and finished fourth in the Nathan’s contest on July 4th.
Morgan, a 2005 LSU graduate, is the seventh-ranked competitive eater by MLE, and has eaten everything from crawfish to Moon Pies. He finished sixth in the July 4th Nathan’s contest with his personal best of 35 dogs and buns, but that was only about half of what the contest winner ate.
Three-time defending slugburger champion eater Jeremy Smith doesn’t have the experience of those guys, but he says eating a slugburger is different and he’s preparing for the challenge.
City tourism officials are hoping for new visitors to the Papa John’s 25th annual Slugburger Festival, both with the nationally sanctioned eating competition and with mention on network television on July 4th.
“It was mentioned on ‘The Today Show’ in a short list of Tripadvisors.com Wackiest Summer Festivals,” Corinth Area CVB Director Kristy White told her board earlier this week.
Local people, however, who have easy access to as many slugburgers as they want in area eateries, often concentrate on each evening’s musical entertainment and the carnival rides for the kids.
Entertainment kicks off with Slug Idol and Junior Slug Idol performances tonight.
“People really look forward to the Slug Idol contest with our local talent,” Hill said. “This year we separated the 13-to-17-year-olds into a Junior Slug Idol category so they will compete with their peers.”
Slug Idol finalists will perform before the featured performers – Jamie Davis and Soul Gravy – Friday night. Davis and his local band out of Booneville is one of north Mississippi’s most popular bands, performing a program of rock music with a twist of country.
The slugburger eating contest at 2 p.m. Saturday will be at Fillmore and Cruise, with carnival rides available following the event until entertainment gates open at 6 p.m. Visitors also may want to browse Corinth’s many unique downtown shops.
Ben Mathis and Karen Waldrup are the two acts that will perform before Saturday’s headline duo Love and Theft take the stage.
Mathis, a local from Corinth, played in the Grassroots Country band Nash Street.
An up-and-coming country singer, Waldrup was named one of Great American Country’s Top 25 song writers and just released her new album, “The Beginning.”
Love and Theft just reached the Country Billboard chart’s top 10 with their hit song “Angel Eyes.”
WHAT: Papa John’s 25th annual Slugburger Festival
WHEN: 6-11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday for entertainment and
carnival rides; 2 p.m. Saturday for slugburger eating contest
WHERE: Fillmore and Cruise Streets and Fillmore and Wick Streets
ADMISSION: $15 per daily carnival ride armband; free to attend eating
contest; entertainment admission free today, $6 Friday (with $2 off for
dressing 1980s style to celebrate the event’s 25th anniversary), $10
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.slugburgerfestival.com; (662)